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  • Home > Anne Bishop > Black Jewels > Shalador's Lady (Chapter 103)      Page
  • Shalador's Lady(Black Jewels,Book 8)(103) by Anne Bishop
  • “Thank you.” Theran nodded at the paper Jhorma still held. “You can give him that too. He should know why his sons were forfeit.”

    As soon as Jhorma and Trae left, Theran called in a bottle of brandy. He had downed his first large glass before Kermilla stomped daintily into the room.

    “Did Trae tell you about the dreadful thing that happened in town today?” Kermilla put her hands on her hips and looked stern. “You should tell Talon he has no business interfering with this town.You rule here.”

    “Garth and Brok are forfeit, Kermilla. There is nothing anyone can do about that.”

    “You have to do something! They’re mine, Theran. They’re—”

    “Dead.”Hell’s fire. He hadn’t meant to be that blunt.

    She paled. Pouring more brandy in the glass, he guided her to a chair. “Drink this.” He waited until she chugged the brandy. “I’m sorry, Kermilla, but Garth and Brok are dead. They were executed.”

    She gasped for air, then wailed, “Why?”

    He pulled up a footstool and sat in front of her. “They went to a landen’s house with the intention of raping the wife and daughter. That’s unforgivable, even here where we’ve forgotten so much of the Old Ways of the Blood.”

    “They wouldn’t do that,” Kermilla protested.

    She didn’t believe them capable of that obscenity. She hadn’t realized what kind of men they were when she’d claimed them. Thank the Darkness for that. “They did.”

    Calling in a small, lace-edged handkerchief, she looked at him with big blue eyes and sniffled, turning an ordinary body sound into something feminine and delicate.

    “What about Correne?” Kermilla asked. “I know she went off with you this morning, which is very naughty of you, Theran. She hasn’t had her Virgin Night yet. She shouldn’t go anywhere with a man without a chaperon.”

    “I took her home,” Theran said quietly. “She’s back in her home village now.”

    “Why?She was my only friend here. My only female friend,” she added hastily when he stiffened.

    He took the glass from her and set it on the table next to the chair. Then he took her hands. “She wasn’t a friend to you, although she hid her intentions well.”

    She jerked her hands out of his. “Whatever are you talking about? Of course she’s my friend.”

    The headache was still there, gnawing inside his skull. So he spoke without softening the blow. “Because of her, you made enemies at dinner the other night.” He pulled back. He should have asked this question before. Hehad asked this question before. But not so bluntly that he would have to have an answer. “Maybe I’ve presumed too much from your staying here after Cassidy moved her court to Eyota. If I have, I apologize. I thought you were willing to become the Queen here next spring. I thought you had stayed to learn what the people here need from their Queen. I’ve been bringing influential people here to meet you so that they would support your intention to rule.”

    “What influential people?” Kermilla snapped. “There are only a handful of aristo families in this town and I’m not allowed to go anywhere else.”

    “Influential doesn’t always mean aristo,” Theran said, tightening the leash on his temper. “Ferall is an example. He’s a savage fighter, and he’s respected by other Warlord Princes and the surviving Queens because of it.”

    “He wasn’t very nice at dinner.”

    Kermilla stuck out her lower lip. The pout usually made him think of carnal things he’d like to do with her. Today, with his head pounding unmercifully, it just made her mouth look puffy and unattractive.

    “You should have slapped Correne down when she made that remark about Cassidy.”

    “Well, shewas called Lady Freckledy.”

    “That doesn’t matter. She wasn’t the Queen of a Territory then. Ferall didn’t join Cassidy’s court and he may not serve her directly, but hewas insulted on her behalf. When you did nothing, you lost his support—and the support of the other three Warlord Princes who came with him. That means you lost the support of any of the Queens who pay attention to how Ferall reacts to people who might have great influence in our land.”

    “Why should he be insulted? You just said he wasn’t hers.”

    “You don’t know what it’s like to live under a bad Queen. I believe you would be a better Queen for Dena Nehele, but Cassidy has been making an effort to help the people, and the Queens and Warlord Princes are paying attention. They aren’t interested in parties and concerts, Kermilla. They’re interested in a harvest that will feed everyone through the winter.”

    “You just don’t want to have any fun.”

    “Fun is a luxury we can’t afford yet.” He took her hands again. “And there are some other things the people can’t afford yet. I got the bills from the merchants today.”

    “Oh, Theran. You’re not going to grumble about that too.”

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire